CWO Chris Raj has just passed one of the top courses in the Air Cadets – The Junior Leaders Course. Here is his report:
“I first heard about Junior Leaders a few years ago when a couple of my NCOs attended it – it sounded immensely challenging, time consuming but very, very rewarding – and now that I have completed it myself, I understand it was exactly that.
The nine weekends we attended took us all around the country, to very different RAF and army training areas, to teach and then hone down our leadership skills, both in the classroom and field. Each weekend proved more challenging than last, but as a team, we fought through and helped each other make it to the next one. By the end of our training, there was a very noticeable change in our attitudes, with each and every single JL being more than a little competent and confident in various areas, from our fieldcraft to presentation skills.
Our final phase of the course was the renowned test phase which consisted of a seven day field exercise before our return to camp for an air power exam and presentation. The week in the field proved to be the toughest of my life so far, being both mentally and physically challenging. Yet some experiences such as being deployed in Merlin helicopters and commanding a section in a flight attack will stay with my forever. By the end of the seven days, we limped back to the camp smelling funny and completely exhausted but were all the better for it – we had bonded as a team and had achieved things both as an individual and team that we had never thought possible.
After a challenging written air-power exam and a presentation to my section, we changed into our Number 1s for the night we had looked forward to all those, cold, wet nights in the field – Graduation Dinner. A three course meal at the officers mess at RAF Honnington, the home of the RAF Regiment, was welcomed by all of us (especially after seven days with nothing but army issue ration packs). During the dinner, some awards were presented and I was lucky enough to receive the Cross Trophy for the best lead on test week and was also selected for the receipt of a JTYAF bursary for an expedition to Kenya for a month in August.
We were handed out DZ flashes on Friday and it then hit us that we were finally Qualifed Junior Leaders, over half a year’s hard work had finally paid off. I have learnt much more than I had expected by attending this course and it has by far been one of the best overall experiences I have had with the Corps. I’d like to thank my CO for ‘persuading’ me to attend this course and all the staff and volunteers at Junior Leaders who made it all possible”.